Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 17 Number 5
Transcribed by LaVonne I. Bennett

     LaVonne has received permission from Grayden Slowins to edit and submit Sebewa Recollector items of genealogical interest, from the beginning year of 1965 through current editions.

THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Bulletin of The Sebewa Association; Volume 17, April 1982, Number 5. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. Slowins, Editor:

BLIND JOHNNY SMITH DIES---A headline in the Lake Odessa Wave of forty-one years ago. Blind Johnny was the Son of Temperance Travis and the stepson of Andrew Travis after whom the Travis School was named. Johnny pretty well overcame his handicap and was quite free to travel as he wished. He had a talent for music, gave singing lessons to groups, sold organs, played piano and had a wide acquaintance in Sebewa. He traveled the state freely on the railroads.

Here is the February 13, 1941 report of his death as given in the WAVE. “It may be of interest to several of the older residents here to know that J. P. Smith of Leslie, better known as “Blind Johnny”, passed away at his home here on February 6. The funeral was held on Saturday, February 8. He was 86 years old and four months ago fell downstairs and fractured his arm. He suffered from shock and was ordered to bed but he grew weaker each day and seems to have had no resistance. Mrs. Smith wrote to Mr. & Mrs. Ed Snobble of his death. Besides Mrs. Smith he leaves a son, William, of Charlotte and a daughter, Louise, at Washington, D. C. He lived in Ionia for a year and in Lake Odessa and other villages.”


A BASKETBALL LARK by Victor Eckardt ~ I think the story I’m about to relate may have happened in 1919 sometime in February or early March. Ervie Howard’s Lake Odessa High School basket ball team was playing in Clarksville on a Friday evening---no school activities were allowed except on Friday evenings. This was before the old High School building burned and Ervie’s team on which Donald Braden, Spencer Braden, Boyd Stockford and some others who played, held their games and practice at the old lakeside pavilion.

Harry James agreed to transport the team to Clarksville in his uncovered stake truck. That left the rest of the high school fans to get there the best way they could. I had a horse and cutter in Grove Cook’s livery barn at Lake Odessa. We had excellent train service in those days. A convenient westbound train left Lake Odessa at 4:30 P.M. Several of us got on this train. I believe the fare was about 2 cents a mile, so for 15 cents we easily got to Clarksville. The stores were still open and as in most towns in those days there was a bakery and a meat market. At the bakery we got cinnamon rolls (would you believe it?) for a dime a dozen. From the meat market a dime’s worth of bologna about 8 inches long with a half dozen rolls made a nice meal.

Of course Clarksville had no gymnasium in those days. They had a building with a basket hanging on either end. I don’t remember who won that game but I do remember the rest of the evening. There was no late evening train eastbound. Ernest (Slip) Klahn, Allen Rush, Clif Shellman, possibly Leo Wilson with several others and myself started trudging the snow between the railroad tracks toward home. We got to the crossing north of Ernest Klahn’s and he suggested I go home with him and spend the night. In the morning his dad was going to town with the sleighs with a load of feed. I accepted his offer. When we got to his house I called home to tell my folks that I would be home in the morning.

I remember the next morning we got up quite early. After the chores were done and the cows milked we had breakfast. I don’t remember anything else we may have had for breakfast but we did have apple pie. I’ll always remember that part, because I loved it---as a normal boy I liked all pies. After breakfast we loaded up a sleigh load of grain and started for Lake Odessa. I believe they were having a Grange meeting that Saturday and they invited me to stay. Reluctantly I decided against it. I went to the livery barn, got my horse and went home.

When I arrived home it was about the middle of the forenoon and my father had the horses hitched to the sleigh and was cleaning out the barn. You can guess the rest, I changed my clothes, got a fork and spent the rest of Saturday at manual labor.

As I look back over those days and remember the discipline we had, both at school and at home, it makes me appreciative of that era. I was required to get up in the morning before school, get my horse ready, milk 12-14 cows without the Hinman milker, eat breakfast and drive 4-5 miles with a horse, many mornings breaking a track through 2-3 feet of snow and get to school by 8:20. Try it sometime.

I am sure we were all human and none of us were perfect but we had very little vandalism and not too many juvenile problems. Our lives were quite safe on the road, well, because if we raced horses on the cutter and got spilled out in the snow, very little damage was done.

We have made some outstanding accomplishments since those days, yet there is still a pleasant flush of nostalgia when I think of those times. End.

TEACHER’S REPORT FOR THE SUMMER TERM commencing April 27, 1879 and ending August 28, 1879 in District No. Seven in the Township of Sebewa. Teacher---Anne Wooldridge

Thanks to Margaret Coppess, we have here the only record that I have seen of Sebewa School District No. 7 known as Baldwin School.

George Baldwin owned the SE 1/3 of SE ¼ of Section 20 Sebewa. The schoolhouse is shown in the Ionia County 1875 Atlas as being a little west of Kimmel Road on Musgrove Hwy.

In the early 1880’s there was a reorganization of the school district boundary lines in which old #7 was divided and parceled out to the Center and the newly created Johnson and Goddard districts.

The old district took in the Olry farm on Musgrove west to M 66, Kimmel Road from the Sindlinger farm south to Musgrove and Goddard Road from the Leak farms north to Bippley.

A small area along M 66 that had been part of the fractional district with the Bippley district was then added to the Johnson district and the West Sebewa district.

Name of Pupil, age, days present, times tardy, Minutes Lost, Deportment:

Phebe Gunn 16, 14, 5, 145, bad
Blanche McAllister 15, 61, 14, 370, good
Maggie Leak 14, 76, 35, 930, extra
Menmi Lapo, 10, 78, 2, extra
George VAnHouten, 13, 64, 14, 490, extra
Anna Leak, 12, 76, 10, 185, good
Geraldo Leak, 10, 78, 6, 175, very good
Daniel VanHouten, 10, 10, 2, 45, good
Reuben VanHouten, 8, 75, 17, 465, quite good
Willie Leak, 9, 59, 18, 235, quite good
Mary Baldwin, 10, 80, 7, 60, good
Lilie Leak, 10, 75, 11, 205, med.
Maud Estep, 7, 80, 10, 235, q good
Charles Ralston, 7, 68, 6, 70, good
Florence Ralston, 17, 72, 17, 36, whisper much
Guy Lapo, 8, 77, 5, 70, good
James Bond, 11, 69, 19, 460, med
Edward Aves, 10, 14, 6, 160, q good
David Davis, 11, 52, 8, 105, v good
John Gunn, 13, 19, 6, 175, good
Ellie Leak, 8, 4, 45, good
Libbie Leik, 6, 6, 95, 62, q good
Joseph Ralston, 5, 66, 5, 110, good
George Aves, 6, 60, 1, 5, good
Charles Baldwin, 7, 78, 7, 131, q good
Addie Baldwin, 5, 75, 6, 85, q good
Jemima Oberhaltzer, 8, 73, 21, 575, q good
Martha Oberhaltzer, 5, 73, 28, 610, q good
Susie Johnson, 8, 71, 9, 180, med
Samuel Johnson, 5, 77, 8, 265, med

Whole number of days attendance, 1865 ½
Average attendance per day, 24
Number of days taught, 80
Number of pupils enrolled, 30
Largest number present in one day, 30
Smallest number present in one day, 17
Number of visits from parents, 5
Other visits, 37

In addition to the visits the house was full of company the last day of school chiefly the parents of the scholars. I certify that the above is as correct report of any school as far as known to me. Anne M. Wooldridge, Teacher

Anne Mary Wooldridge came from Hull, England at age 3 in 1852. Her parents were Samuel and Mary (Lightfoot) Wooldridge---interment Easton Cemetery, Ionia County.



Last update November 16, 2013